Penn­syl­va­nia chided for han­dling of elder abuse

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Marc Levy

HAR­RIS­BURG >> An in­ter­nal Penn­syl­va­nia state gov­ern­ment watch­dog agency is crit­i­ciz­ing how county-level agen­cies in­ves­ti­gate thou­sands of com­plaints they re­ceive about elder abuse and how the state en­sures com­plaints are in­ves­ti­gated ad­e­quately.

Among the short­com­ings iden­ti­fied by the Of­fice of State In­spec­tor Gen­eral were fail­ures by some county-level agen­cies to prop­erly in­ves­ti­gate com­plaints un­der time­lines re­quired by state law and in­ad­e­quate staffing of the state of­fice that mon­i­tors those agen­cies.

A six-page sum­mary of the re­port re­leased this week also said in­ves­tiga­tive prac­tices aren’t stan­dard­ized across coun­ties and it crit­i­cized train­ing re­quire­ments for case­work­ers as far too weak, par­tic­u­larly com­pared to model states.

Com­plaints can in­volve phys­i­cal abuse, self-ne­glect or fi­nan­cial ex­ploita­tion and Penn­syl­va­nia, like other states, is see­ing a fast­grow­ing num­ber of com­plaints that has forced some coun­ties to hire more case­work­ers to keep up.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s ad­min­is­tra­tion said it has be­gun to ad­dress the re­port’s find­ings. In the days be­fore it re­leased the re­port’s sum­mary, Wolf cleared out the top two of­fi­cials in his Depart­ment of Ag­ing, which over­sees what is called pro­tec­tive ser­vices for peo­ple who are 60 and older.

The Penn­syl­va­nia As­so­ci­a­tion of Area Agen­cies on Ag­ing, which speaks for the 52 countylevel agen­cies, said those or­ga­ni­za­tions and the Depart­ment of Ag­ing “have made sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments” since the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan.

Wolf’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is not re­leas­ing the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s full 24-page re­port, al­though his of­fice said that, in re­leas­ing the sum­mary, it is be­ing more trans­par­ent than the state’s long-stand­ing prac­tice of keep­ing such re­ports con­fi­den­tial.

The As­so­ci­ated Press in 2017 re­viewed hun­dreds of pages of Depart­ment of Ag­ing records and found the per­for­mance of ELDER >> PAGE 3

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